Cranberry, Orange and Chia Seed Muffins – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly, Dairy Free, Gluten Free & Grain Free

Cranberry, Orange & Chia Seed Muffins

Maybe two years ago Evgeny and I went on a low carb/grain free diet for 6 months and we felt good. We had extra energy, my skin cleared up and we even lost some weight but then slipped back into our old habits – I of course remained fructose friendly. A little while ago we were talking about how good we felt back then and we decided to give it another shot; this time, however, we can eat rice occasionally.

The main reason we reverted to old habits was not because we didn’t feel good – quite the opposite – but because the diet was too restrictive for us to maintain all the time and as soon as we had one treat, another one crept in and before we knew it we were eating carbs/grains full time again. Whoops! This time our emphasis is on unprocessed, rather than grains. We’re buying ingredients, rather than foods, as the saying goes. It’s much easier to stay on track and eat meals that don’t get boring and they’re probably definitely much better for us than the pre-packaged low carb desserts that we bought last time.

Aside from that, I don’t really like diets that encourage extremes – either all low/non fat, or super low carb etc. Balance is the key to health and while I do agree we rely too much on grains for today’s diet – I used to have porridge for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner until I was diagnosed with FM – I’m sure that having a bowl of rice or a slice of FODMAP friendly bread on the weekend isn’t going to ruin all my good work. Besides, I enjoy baking and sharing the goodies that come out of the oven. It’s relaxing!

After a month of this diet – and feeling great, I might add – I think we will be able to maintain this long term. The one thing we miss, though, is a sweet treat during the week. Now I know it’s not good to have dessert every night but occasionally we need more than a banana or orange after dinner and these grain free muffins really hit the spot. As added insurance against splurging, I recommend freezing these so you can’t just guts them all at once.

I adapted this recipe from Delicious As It Looks, a fantastic website with FODMAP friendly recipes that I highly recommend visiting. The muffins are light, fluffy and delicately sweetened and inspired by the orange and poppy seed muffins I fell in love with at Melbourne Uni.

Notes:

  1. Cranberries are low FODMAP. Dried cranberries are tolerated by some fructose malabsorbers in small amounts – there should only be 5-6 dried cranberries per muffin and the dextrose (if you use it) will reduce the fructose load further. Also ensure your cranberries weren’t dried or mixed with any fruit juices or sugars that are not low FODMAP.
  2. Orange is low FODMAP, as is a little fresh squeezed juice. Bottled juice, however, is highly concentrated and very sugary, so has a higher fructose load.
  3. Almonds are low FODMAP in servings of 10 nuts. If you are concerned about the FOS/GOS of almonds in this recipe then you can sub in some buckwheat flour or my gluten free plain flour – just remember it will no longer be grain free.

Cranberry, Orange and Chia Seed Muffins

Makes 10 x 1/4 cup muffins.

  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup dextrose or 1/4 cup castor sugar – or more to your taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange (washed!)
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries – depending on tolerance. If you’re unsure, stick to the 1/4 cup initially.
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Note that you will reduce the heat to 300 F/150 C just before baking.

In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar together for 2-3 minutes, until they become smooth. Add in the eggs and OJ and continue mixing until combined.

Meanwhile, add the almond meal, chia seeds, orange zest, dried cranberries and salt together in a separate bowl and mix together roughly. When the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined, add in the dry ingredients little by little until you have a smooth mixture. Now combine the baking powder and white wine vinegar in a ramekin and mix quickly – it will foam. Pour it into the batter and keep mixing til combined.

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Spoon the mixture out between greased or lined muffin pans, reduce the oven’s heat to 300 F/150 C and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a centre muffin tests clean (with a skewer).

They won’t brown like a normal wheat – or even gluten free – muffin will, they stay a lighter white-ish yellow colour. This is normal, don’t leave them in the oven to brown, as they will just go dry and hard due to over-cooking.

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Let them sit for 10-15 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to come to room temperature. Most importantly, enjoy!

These freeze well or keep in the pantry in an airtight container for a week.

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Banana Nut Muffins – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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I am SO excited to share this recipe with you guys, not just because these muffins are so moist and delicious without being overly sweet but because it was the first successful use of my own gluten free plain flour blend!

When trialling this flour, I had to use a recipe that I had down pat, and what better recipe than an old favourite? That way I’d know, if something went wrong, I could blame the flour blend.

Banana bread/muffins/cake is a comfort food for me – good thing that bananas are low FODMAP – and I like baking them in individual servings so that I can freeze them and let one thaw each day that I want one. It also means that they last longer, seeing as they’re frozen and I can’t just grab one out and scoff it – I need to wait and be patient. SO not my strong suit.

These muffins work well for breakfast on the go, a morning tea or a dessert – maybe give them a dose of cream cheese icing if you want to serve them for dessert and have them looking the part.

Notes:

  1. Bananas are low FODMAP, except for overripe sugar bananas. But your average supermarket banana is safe as long as it’s a small to medium size.
  2. Almonds are low FODMAP in servings of 10 nuts. There is only 1/4 cup of almond meal in this entire recipe, spread over 12 muffins, so FODMAP-wise they’re safe.
  3. For a lactose free muffin – use unrefined virgin coconut oil instead of butter and a LF milk with a dash of lemon juice.
  4. For a vegan option, use the LF options as well as 1/3 cup silken tofu instead of the eggs, the instructions remain the same. Alternatively, use your favourite egg replacement method.

Banana Nut Muffins

Wet ingredients

  • 115 g (approx 1/2 cup) butter or virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup dextrose
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs or 1/3 cup silken tofu
  • 1 1/2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk – or lactose free/non-dairy milk with a dash of lemon juice

Dry ingredients

  • 250 g GF plain flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut shreds
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F and line a 12 pan muffin tray with patty pans.

Cream the butter, sugar and maple syrup on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes, then add in the eggs, mashed banana, vanilla extract and buttermilk and mix until combined.

Meanwhile, sift all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl and stir through. When the wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, gradually add in the dry ingredients and keep beating on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the edges as necessary.

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Scoop a heaped 1/4 cup measure into each pan and sprinkle with extra desiccated coconut. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 C, or until a centre muffin tests clean. Let them sit in the pan for 15 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack and allowing them to reach  room temperature before you box or freeze them.

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Almond Meal Pastry – Low Fructose, FODMAPS & Gluten Free

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This isn’t so much a pastry (well, it is, I suppose) as a biscuit base that multitasks perfectly as a shortcrust base for tarts and pies. It is designed to be a slightly sweetened, plain pastry so that your filling of choice can take the spotlight.

If you would like to add in different flavours, such as ground ginger or lemon zest, to complement your tart them go right ahead; and if you can’t be bothered refrigerating and rolling out a finnicky pastry like the GF sour cream pastry, then this is a great alternative for tarts and pies that don’t need a pastry layer on top.

Almond Meal Pastry

  • 2 cups almond meal/flour
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut butter (maybe a little more) for FODMAPS
  • 3 tbsp. dextrose or castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Savoury variation – omit the sugar and spices and add in an extra 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tbsp. suitable herbs (to match your filling), such as oregano, rosemary or thyme.

Put everything in your stand-mixer or food processor and mix with the paddle until thoroughly combined.

After oiling a pie or tart dish, break the dough into quarters and gradually press them into the tin. This takes a little bit of time to do neatly and make sure you have no weak spots (or filling leaks out and the tart will stick in the tin) but it’s quite relaxing to do, almost cathartic. Make sure it’s no thicker than 5 mm thick at the base for proper cooking.

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Your options for cooking include:

  1. Completely blind bake it. This takes up to 30 minutes at 150 C/300 F, depending on your oven. Check it every couple of minutes after the 20 minute mark to be safe. It should end up a nice, golden brown and firm. It will continue to harden as it cools, though, so beware of over-cooking.
  2. Partially blind bake it for 10 minutes at 150 C/300 F and then add your filling and continue to bake until the filling is completely cooked and the pastry golden brown.

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This is great for not only tart shells but also small biscuits – I baked some left over pastry for 20 minutes at 150 C/300 F and then ate them warm with fresh raspberries and a teaspoon of whipped cream on top. Yum!

Strawberry Salad with a Maple Lemon Vinaigrette – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

I apologise for the strawberry theme that’s going on at the moment but they are in season and I am making the most of it! Don’t hate.

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I suppose I should apologise further to those in Australia/the Southern Hemisphere who are going into winter and don’t have the luxury of in season strawberries or the warm weather we’re having. *Insert evil laugh.* I should say, though, that this is the third spring we’ve spent in Seattle and it is so much warmer than the last two. When I was walking the dogs earlier this week it was still 30 C/85 F at 5pm! That’s not far below the maximum summer temperature that we had last August!

But anyway, back to the salad! I was taking this to a lunch with the girls and wanted something a little more interesting than what I usually make for my own lunches. And I also wanted to try and recreate a lemon viniagrette that I had on a salad a couple of weeks ago… I snuck a look at the ingredients; a few tweaks were required (such as getting rid of the honey) but I got it right eventually.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Strawberries, cucumber and spinach are all low FODMAP in the servings given, as are the nuts and seeds.
  2. Maple syrup is sucrose-based, thus is FODMAP friendly, however, feel free to use dextrose if you’d like.
  3. White wine vinegar is fructose friendly, as it has been double fermented.
  4. Olive oil is low FODMAP, assuming that no high FODMAP ingredients have been added.

Strawberry Salad with a Maple Lemon Vinaigrette

Salad

To serve as a side salad, you will need the following per person (double to serve alone):

  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup diced cucumber (Lebanese, English or Continental)
  • 3 medium/2 large strawberries, diced
  • 1 tbsp. toasted almonds/pecans/walnuts, chopped roughly or slivered

Roughly shred the baby spinach leaves (if you want to) and dice the strawberries and cucumber. Roughly chop your almonds (or other nuts) if you didn’t buy then slivered and toast them in the oven at 300 F/150 C for 5-10 minutes, until they give off an almondy smell. Take them out and let them cool completely or they will make the spinach leaves wilt.

When the almonds have cooled, toss all the ingredients together and put in the fridge until ready to serve. I would suggest not preparing it any further than half a day in advance.

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Maple Lemon Vinaigrette

The below amount will provide generous servings of dressing for 8 people.

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or 1.5 tbsp glucose/dextrose powder)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Combine the liquid ingredients in a jar. I prefer the maple syrup over glucose powder for the extra flavour and the fact that it doesn’t need to dissolve.

Over a med heat, toast sesame seeds on a dry pan. They will begin to look a little oily/shiny before they give off an aroma and brown slightly. As soon as they are just a golden brown, remove them from the pan and let them cool for a few minutes before adding them to the dressing. I didn’t do this and the first few popped back out at me. Whoops.

Shake the jar well before serving.

You could toss the dressing through the salad just before serving; however I prefer to serve it separately so people can dictate how much they get.

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Enjoy!